There are many ways you can spend your summer — at the pool, vacationing, or attending festivals and concerts. For off-road enthusiasts, though, there’s only one thing on their mind — exploring uncharted territory in their Jeep or truck. If you’re a member of this group — but new to the off-roading game — it can be overwhelming to know where to start. How do you get your vehicle ready for a summer spent off-roading? What accessories do you need to optimize the experience and ensure that it’s safe? Find out everything you need to know — including the products you need and essential safety tips — and by the end of the summer, you’ll be an off-roading pro.
Look for OEM Parts
One of the first tips every beginner should know is to look for OEM parts when you’re enhancing your Jeep or truck. OEM is an acronym for original equipment manufacturer, and it’s typically the best investment because these parts are either made by the original manufacturer of your vehicle or by an authorized distributor. In addition to offering more consistent quality, OEM parts often perform better and last longer. This is because these parts are designed specifically for your exact vehicle. When it comes to off-roading, you don’t want to compromise on the quality of your parts, so OEM is the way to go.
Of course, it isn’t always possible to get OEM parts — especially if there are specific upgrades you want to make that can’t be accomplished with your vehicle’s original parts. Many off-roading enthusiasts love to swap out their standard-size tires with 37-inch all-terrain tires. Tires like these offer better traction and a smoother ride when you’re embarking on an off-road excursion. Most Jeep and truck OEM distributors don’t offer these, but there are plenty of aftermarket companies that do. Just be sure to look at reviews before making a purchase.
It’s a good idea to invest in a suspension kit, too. Options such as the Pro Comp suspension kit allow you to fine-tune your suspension’s settings so that your vehicle is optimized for off-road performance. This process typically involves calibrating the shocks to adjust the tires’ contact with the road. Shocks that are tuned to be soft may result in the body of your vehicle bouncing when you encounter a bump in the road, and conversely, shocks that are tuned to be stiff will likely minimize the chances of body roll.
The most important part of off-roading is always safety. You should ensure that any adjustments you make to your vehicle’s suspension do not put you or your passengers at risk. In order to be safe, you should also bring a friend with you — in their own vehicle — if at all possible. This way, if you happen to become stuck in an off-road area, you can use a Smittybilt winch to haul your vehicle out. If you can’t bring somebody with you, you should still be sure to tell somebody where you are going.